Monday, October 23, 2006

I Hope You Don't Burn in Hell!

Several years ago I was at a meeting with other youth ministers planning a week of camp. During the meeting we discussed how we could do a better job at holding the campers accountable for the commitments they would make during camp. One of the other youth ministers said this:

“I am the type of guy that if someone doesn’t live up to their commitment to God I hope they burn in Hell.”
I remember sitting there shocked that he would say something like that, and even more shocked than no one else challenged him on his statement. Is this really the attitude that we as Christ-Followers should have? To me it sounds contradictory to what we find on the pages of the Bible. Consider these passages:

{22} Show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. {23} Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. There are still others to whom you need to show mercy, but be careful that you aren’t contaminated by their sins (Jude 22, 23; NLT).

{19} My dear brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wonders away from the truth and is brought back again, {20} you can be sure that the one who brings that person back will save that sinner from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins (James 5:19-20; NLT).

{1} Dear brothers and sisters, if another Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. {2} Share each other’s troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ. {3} If you think you are too important to help someone in need, you are only fooling yourself. You are really a nobody (Galatians 6:1-3; NLT).
It seems clear to me that rather than hoping a person burns in Hell for not living up to their commitment we are to do our best to restore that person to a relationship with the local church family and with God. We have a responsibility for the lives of other people. According to the Apostle Paul when we don’t share in the burdens and problems of others we are not obeying the law of Christ.

Being a Christ-Follower means being a part of a community. The New Testament is much more concerned with the community’s relationship with Christ than with the individual’s relationship with Christ. If we get so caught up in our own “personal relationship” with Jesus that we neglect other Christians then we are not being true to what following Jesus is all about.

It is the person who is working so hard on their relationship with Jesus that can say what my youth minister friend said so long ago. Why? Because if other people aren’t putting the same amount of effort into their commitment as they are then those slackers aren’t worthy of Heaven.

When we spending time helping, ministering, and serving others we begin to develop compassion for them. We realize the obstacles they face as they try to live out their faith and the difficulties in their lives that hinder their relationship with God. Our hearts begin to beat like Jesus’ heart when we reach out to other people, especially other Christ-Followers.

We need to take some time and evaluate our lives. Do I find it easy to judge people who don’t live up to my standard of what a Christian should be? Do I spend time helping other people? How have I shown compassion to someone who is struggling with life? A relationship with Jesus is more than believing the right things; it is also about doing the right things.

2 comments:

Joy in the Journey said...

Yes! Translating faith into action!

Being in hell, eternally separated from God, is something I would not wish upon my children's worst enemy.

Paul said...

What stands out to me, and the type of action we should be doing, is helping other people. I believe this is what made the Church so attractive to people in first few centuries, even though Christians we being persecuted and killed. It is that type of compassionate action we need to recapture.

Our Identity

{Philippians 1:1-2; NLT}   This letter is from Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus. I am writing to all of God's holy people i...